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Indra Nooyi (née Krishnamurthy) added another name to the list of Indian origin CEOs that are pioneering multinational giants or Fortune 500 Companies and whole another valuable addition to the list of women in C suite positions not only within PepsiCo but all around the world.
She recently retired from a 12 years position of being the CEO of PepsiCo. We would further try to trace her journey from south India towards being one of the most powerful women in the world, year after year.
Born to a Brahmin middle class family in Madras, Tamil Nadu, Indra Nooyi and her sister were subjected to an upbringing where academic excellence was valued before anything else. Their mother, who, although, hadn’t received much of formal education, believed to thoroughly educate her daughters. Nooyi’s mother used to prompt them to dream big so much so that she would ask them to deliver mock canvass speeches as candidates for becoming Indian Prime Minister and President.
Ever since her childhood she was a slight rebel (every set of strict parents, especially Indian, raise at least one rebel kid) and most often than not defied convention. She used to play cricket, in fact, as once mentioned in an interview, she was even a captain of one team, basically, she called the shots for everything she was involved in. Also, She was also a part of an all girls rock band.
She graduated in physics, chemistry and mathematics from the prestigious Madras Christian College and went through IIM (India Institute of Management) Calcutta for a diploma programme. Despite her consistent streak of academic brilliance, her parents were skeptical whether she’ll go through Yale University for her masters (talk about impressing Indian parents) but she applied, nonetheless. In 1980, Indra Nooyi received her master’s degree in private and public management from Yale College of Management.
Before holding the apex office at PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi worked at several multinational companies, some were even listed in Fortune 500, those included Johnson & Johnson (Indian subsidiary), Asea Brown Boveri, Booz Allen Hamilton and Boston Consultancy Group. She even held the Vice President’s office in Motorola Inc. before the company went under a demerger. Finally in 1994, Indra Nooyi entered PepsiCo as a strategic planner and over the years she worked her way up the ladder.
Indra Nooyi was already a mother of two, an adolescent and a new born, when she joined PepsiCo. Until then, she had learned to sort of manage her multiple roles, a working professional, a mother, a daughter and a wife. When she worked as senior Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Development, she successfully spearheaded much of all the major negotiations and acquisitions. It was as if her entry marked the beginning of a new era for the food and beverage giant.
She prompted the company’s shift from being a supplier of significantly high & unhealthy calorie foods to subsequently numbered calorie food items along with other healthier options. Indra Nooyi’s much thought out classification of food products portfolio into 3 sections – “fun for you”, included regular soda, “better for you”, included diet soda, and “good for you”, included Gatorade and so, gained much profit for the company. She reigned the multibillion dollar (approximately, $3.3 billions) acquisition of Tropicana, while a merger with Quaker Oats and Gatorade, which gave them a new edge within the markets. She also encouraged regulation of existing products such as dropping the artificial sugar from its beverages while also including tinier These deals proved to be a win win for it raised PepsiCo’s annual profit from $2.7 dollars to a whopping $6.5 billion dollars revenue.
Nooyi, adapted the corporate mantra of ‘Performance with a purpose’, which moreover, meant that working or performing in a way that not only benefited internal stakeholders but also the public and the society at large. This motto allowed the company to have a cleaner relationship with the environment as it dealt with conscious use of water resources, using renewable energy and higher investment in recycling the waste produced. Under this campaign, her stance of good and effective communication, especially with employees, gained much acceleration and helped the company to become one giant family.
Unlike other CEOs, her tenure at the helm was way past the average CEO. She succeeded Steven Reinemund and after 12 years of holding the office, she passed it on to Ramon Laguarte.
Indra Nooyi, being her courageous, visionary, persistent and moreover, her own self, featured consequently 10 times ( from 2008 – 2017) in Forbes, 100 most powerful women in the world. Most of all her accolades celebrate her phenomenal role as the company’s CEO.
She, along with her husband donated an unseen amount to the Yale School of Management making her the biggest alumni donor. Indra has been actively helping Connecticut governors and the local public in the trying times of Corona.
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